Stephanie Holmes visits a modern, inner-city hotel with heritage and sustainability at its core
Location: In the heart of the Britomart precinct, it's the crowning glory of close to 20 years of revitalisation in the area. The train station and major bus routes are just steps away from the front door.
Style: Contemporary and chic with frequent nods to the site's heritage.
Price: From $349 per night.
Perfect for: A stylish city break close to everything you need.
First impressions: Although the hotel is brand new, it feels like it could have been here forever, blending seamlessly into its surroundings. The stylish entrance is calm and filled with light, and is part of a bustling Melbourne-style laneway.
Reclaimed brick, timber and driftwood detailing showcase the hotel's aim to retain a sense of heritage in this historic precinct. There's also a focus on the property's New Zealand-ness: a living tōtara tree grows out of the reception desk, Muriwai sand has been solidified into a stunning feature wall, and guests are offered fresh kawakawa iced tea on arrival.
Rooms: The hotel has 99 rooms and five super-luxurious Landing Suites, which take inspiration from sister property The Landing, in the Bay of Islands.
I stayed in a corner room on the 8th floor with views down to the Britomart precinct, the port, the harbour and across to Rangitoto - a nice contrast of Auckland's urban and marine environments.
The room was compact but beautifully appointed, with the super-king bed not overpowering the space, and the bathroom nicely separated from the living spaces.
Three windows bathed the room in natural light and the neutral colour palette of cream, fawn, beige and natural linen added to the contemporary feel.
A minibar is tucked away in a built-in wardrobe with the most beautiful forest green tūī-print wallpaper.
There are some quirks that might take a while to get used to – lights and blinds are controlled by a touch screen panel by the door that also runs the air con. While it's nice to be able to raise and lower the blinds at the touch of a button, it would be nicer if you didn't have to get out of bed to do it. Also, the blackout blinds became somewhat redundant thanks to the touch panel's constant bright glow penetrating the darkness. Pedantic, perhaps, and absolutely not enough to spoil your stay, but it's a common quirk of new hotels - designers sometimes consider flair over functionality.
Bathroom: There's a well-lit sink and vanity area, leading to a dark granite-tile walled space housing toilet and walk-in shower. Toiletries are from the NZ-made Sans [ceuticals] range and are in large refillable bottles – not the small hotel-style you can take home in your suitcase.
Food and drink: As well as the many culinary delights of the Britomart, Downtown, and Waterfront areas, the hotel has wonderful options on-site. Don't miss grabbing some exceptional fresh-baked goods from Daily Bread, and dinner at kingi – the latest restaurant from Tom Hishon and Josh Helm of Orphans Kitchen fame – is an absolute must.
The menu showcases locally sourced, sustainably caught seafood, as well as other local produce and fine wines. We ordered as many shared plates as our table could hold – Waiheke's Te Matuku Bay oysters, wood-fired flatbread, marinated anchovies, hot smoked kahawai, hāpuku taramasalata, Clevedon heirloom tomatoes, Wairau Valley burrata, charred carrots, potato rosti... and finished it all off with house-made icecream (lemon curd, sourdough and burnt butter). The chilled red wine, on tap, was a refreshing accompaniment on a thickly humid day.
I returned for breakfast – anchovies again, this time with slow-poached eggs on a slice of sourdough toast – and will definitely be heading back again. That's one of the great things about the hotel – it has created a great new destination to visit, whether or not you're staying in-house.
Valet parking (but why bother when public transport is so readily available?), bikes for guest use, on-site gym, free Wi-Fi.
In the neighbourhood:
You can easily walk to Spark Arena, the Ferry Building, the Viaduct, Wynyard Quarter, Commercial Bay, Queen St and more. Take public transport to reach everywhere else.
Family friendly: There are five pairs of interconnecting rooms, so the adults and kids can each have their own space. Eighteen rooms can be converted to twin beds.
Accessibility: Five accessible rooms.
Sustainability: This is what the Hotel Britomart is all about – sustainability has been at the heart of the project since the beginning. It's New Zealand's first five Green Star rated hotel, which means the building has been independently verified as meeting the highest standards of sustainability. Just a few of many examples: reclaimed materials were used in the building process, 80 per cent of the building waste was reused or recycled, there's a focus on New Zealand made products and suppliers, there are no plastic products in the mini-bars, and duvets and pillows are made from a fibre derived from recycled plastic bottles. Even the complimentary slippers are made from fabrics that can be composted. You can do your part too - guests can opt for housekeeping to not use water or cleaning products in their room during their stay (rooms will be thoroughly cleaned between guests, however).